Cape Town is SA’s fastest city in terms of issuing permits and approvals, a World Bank Group study on the ease of doing business in SA has found.

The Mother City, one of SA’s main economic hubs, issues construction and other permits within 88 days. The ability to obtain construction permits in Cape Town is faster than in most high-income economies, the research has found. The Western Cape accounts for about 13% of national GDP.

Pilar Salgado Otónel, the World Bank Group’s programme manager for the Subnational Doing Business Unit, said this ranks Cape Town as one of the 30 fastest economies globally on this score. "But in getting electricity there is still work to be done", including in improving the quality of regulations, Salgado Otónel said.

She was speaking at the launch of a World Bank Group report titled Doing Business in South Africa 2018, which compares business regulations for domestic firms in nine urban areas and four maritime ports with 189 other economies globally. The survey is conducted at the request of the South African government.

Doing Business

The report is based on the annual global Doing Business study, which benchmarks 190 economies for the past 16 years and measures the performance of each country across 11 indicators that look at how business regulation affects small and medium enterprises. This is throughout different milestones including starting a business, getting licences, hiring workers and paying taxes.

While there are some SA cities performing on par with those cities in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forum, others are lagging behind in the bottom 20, Paul Noumba Um, SA country director for the World Bank Group, said.

"Even though reforms have been few, where they have been measured they have led to striking results." He said that closer co-operation will be needed between national and local governments to streamline the business environment.

Since the 2015 study, Cape Town, eThekwini, Johannesburg, Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay have implemented reforms. These include making it faster for businesses to obtain electricity and making property transfers easier.

Joburg now performs well in registering property and getting electricity, which was an area of improvement. Joburg, Cape Town and eThekwini have begun monitoring reliability of electricity supply in line with international best practices.